Painting 101: How Long Does It Take for Paint to Dry and Cure?

Drying vs Curing
Water-Based Paints
Oil-Based Paints
Factors Affecting Paint Drying Time

Nothing freshens up your home like a fresh coat of paint. It is the easiest way to spruce up your space on a budget and you can do it on your own without having to hire a professional. However, if you want your paint job to look perfect and streak-free, it is imperative to determine how long you should wait between each coat and when would be the right time to move your furniture back against the wall. Apart from the paint drying time, you must also be aware of the curing time. Although a lot of people use these terms interchangeably, in reality, they couldn’t be more different. 

Since we have already discussed tips on how to paint your room like a pro and talked about the essential tools required for painting your home, it’s about time we answered the most popular paint-related query: how long does paint take to dry?

However, before we delve into the drying and curing times of different types of paints and finishes, let’s take a quick look at what these terms actually mean. 

Drying vs Curing: What’s the Difference?

Paints might dry in a few hours but they take several days to cure

The paint drying time is always shorter than its curing time.

If you touch a freshly painted wall with your hand and the colour doesn’t stick to your fingers or feel wet, it usually means the paint has dried. This happens when the solvents inside the paint have evaporated, leaving the pigment behind. Typically, it takes between one to eight hours for the paint to dry and be ready for a second coat. However, even after drying, the paint is still fragile.

On the other hand, the term curing is used when all of the solvents in the paint have completely evaporated and the material has reached its maximum hardness. At this point, the paint is no longer fragile or prone to denting. Usually, it takes about a month for the paint to cure properly. If you hang any heavy items on your wall before that period or bump any heavy furniture against your walls, you might notice a little indentation forming on the surface.

Curing is sometimes also referred to as the “setting time” and varies significantly with different types of paints and finishes.

How Long Does It Take For Water-Based Paints to Dry and Cure?

how long does it take for acrylic paint to dry
Latex paints dry very quickly but can take up to two months to cure

One of the most common questions posed by DIY home renovators is “how long does it take for latex paint to dry?” There is no single answer to that question, since paint drying time may vary with each brand.

However, compared to oil-based paints, water-based paints are quicker to dry. Also, they dry from outside in, which means they become dry to touch within a few hours but the curing process takes much longer. The water in latex paints evaporates much sooner than other solvents. 

As far as different finishes are concerned, flat and matte paints have a low amount of binders, a chemical component that is added to hold the pigments together. Such paints have a faster drying time. Meanwhile, glossy paints with high sheen comprise a larger amount of binders, which affects their drying time, making the process a little longer.

So, how long does it take for water-based paints to dry? Here is a breakdown:

Type of Paint/ Finish Paint Drying Time
Primer  30 minutes 
Flat or matte paint  30 minutes to 1 hour
Satin or eggshell paint  1 hour
Semi-gloss paint 1 hour
High-gloss paint 1 to 1.5 hours 

As far as curing is concerned, latex paints take about 30 to 60 days to cure, depending on the choice of colour, quality of paint, atmospheric conditions and other variables. Most experts recommend waiting at least 15 days before wiping the walls after they’ve been painted. 

How Long Does It Take For Oil-Based Paint to Dry and Cure?

how long does paint take to dry
Oil-based paints take several hours to dry and be ready for a second coat

While latex paints take a short time to dry and longer to cure, oil-based paints take really long to dry but require a relatively shorter amount of time to cure. This is because the formula for oil-based doesn’t include water, which increases the drying time. 

Generally, oil-based paints take about six to eight hours to dry, which means you need to wait a substantial amount of time before applying a second coat. In some cases, it might even take longer for the paint to be dry to touch. 

The extensive drying time for these paints is one of the biggest reasons why most homeowners prefer using water-based paints. However, on the plus side, the curing time for oil-based paint fluctuates between three and seven days, which is significantly shorter than that of latex paints. After this amount of time, the paint reaches its maximum hardness and becomes extremely durable.

Factors that May Affect the Paint Drying Time

drying time for different types of paints
The drying and curing time for paint can be affected by external factors

There are quite a few factors that may affect the curing and drying time for different types of paints.


The high levels of humidity in the air can prolong the paint drying time since the moisture in the atmosphere doesn’t allow the water in the paint to evaporate as quickly. Therefore, you should ideally wait for dry weather to paint your home. 


The temperature of your home has a huge impact on the paint drying and curing time. If it’s too cold, the paint would take longer to dry. However, if it’s too hot inside your home, the top layer of the paint will dry a bit too quickly, leaving the bottom layers moist. This usually results in walls looking uneven and streaked.  

Pro tip: You can dry paint faster with a hairdryer. Just make sure to keep it at least 2 inches away from the wall at a low-heat setting.


Paint tends to dry quicker in well-ventilated rooms. So, if you are painting your home, make sure to open up the windows and turn on the fan for the solvents to evaporate as soon as possible.

It is also a great way to get rid of paint fumes in your house.

This brings us to the end of our guide on how to determine the drying time of paints. 

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